Little is known about the human presence in the Korean peninsula during the prehistoric era, but numerous clues allow us to hypothesize a population dating back to the Paleolithic. Still united, in the Quaternary, to the Japanese archipelago, Korea constituted an easy land of passage between the pre-existing continental human groups and the more peripheral eastern areas. It is only in the Neolithic that we can, however, speak of a definitive human occupation; in this period the peninsula in fact began to be the object of the cultural influences of the first Chinese agricultural civilizations (as evidenced by finds at sites of the northern Hamgyŏng-sanjulgi and of Kimbal in Kyŏngsang). Some Chinese textual sources of the seventh century BC. C. report the oldest reliable information in our possession: in these there are useful data on the first immigrant movements (of Chinese populations, in fact). The immigration currents, at first occasional, later assumed stable aspects, later the spread of rice growing and agricultural practices in general. In the first half of the seventeenth century it is estimated that there were about one and a half million residents in Korea, which became 2.3 million at the end of the same century. Exceeding the quota of 7 and a half million units already in the early nineteenth century, the Korean population reached 10 million (1875) mainly thanks to trade with neighboring countries. Benefiting from the improvement in living conditions (more efficient sanitation checks and better diet), in which a fundamental role was played by the Japanese conquest, the population then reached 24 million on the eve of the Second World War. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, with industrial development also in South Korea there has been a phenomenon of exodus from the countryside to the cities, and, at the same time, huge movements of people towards the SN.
From the 1930s onwards, according to localtimezone, the population increased steadily, so much so that in 1955 (after the civil war, cost as many as 2 million deaths) the total number of residents of the peninsula was estimated at around 32 million. After the strong post-war immigration movements (about 3 million people from Japan, China, the Soviet Union and about 2 million refugees from North Korea), the lowering of mortality and the parallel high birth rate have resulted over the years Fifties and sixties, constant population increases. As a consequence of the strict birth control policies introduced since the 1960s, which provided for a system of economic incentives for families with no more than two children, in recent decades the natural rate of increase has progressively reduced, while the rate of mortality remains rather low. Like industrialized societies, for South Korea too, the problem of population aging is on the horizon, an issue that will undoubtedly be one of the most pressing social issues in the years to come. From the point of view of the ethnic composition, the population of South Korea is quite homogeneous, since the Koreans make up about 97.7%, the Japanese represent 2%, while the other ethnic groups make up the remaining 0.3%.. The pressure of the population on the territory, in terms of the Japanese represent 2%, while the other ethnic groups make up the remaining 0.3%. The pressure of the population on the territory, in terms of the Japanese represent 2%, while the other ethnic groups make up the remaining 0.3%.
The pressure of the population on the territory, in terms of density (513.54 residents / km²), is among the highest in the world, and this, together with the increasing concentration of production activities, determines strong environmental risks. South Korea’s main metropolis, as well as one of the largest cities in the world, is Seoul. Capital for centuries, it was confirmed in this role by the Japanese, who on the one hand strengthened its economic pre-eminence, making it the center of the road and rail communications network, on the other hand they radically transformed the urban structure, giving the city a modern imprint. of a distinctly “Western” style that largely persists, despite the subsequent enormous proliferation of the suburbs. Seoul’s maritime outlet is Inch’ŏn, on the Yellow Sea, also home to various industrial complexes, especially metallurgical ones. Inland, on the other hand, are Taegu (the third largest metropolis in the country), a traditional agricultural market in the fertile Naktong valley, and Taejŏn, both located on the main Seoul-Pusan railway line. Also in the interior is Kwangju, one of the most industrialized cities in Southwest Korea. In 2004, the choice of the Gongju-Yongi area as the new administrative capital of the country was announced. The urbanization process, however, has not only affected the big cities: many villages have grown, demographically and economically, gaining the rank of cities, while new urban centers have sprung up as a result of the localization of industrial complexes. Good road and rail links also ensure a strong seasonal commute to the cities.